A/N: This story was originally written as a birthday gift for a friend, Akane. It's a HUGE birthday gift fic, to say the least, so it's now being posted to celebrate Near's birthday, which is in two weeks. So you'll get a chapter this Friday, next Friday, and the last Friday, which is Near's birthday. Happy Birthday Near!!

Near likes L

Part 1

One day, Near decided he liked L.

In retrospect, it was quite obvious he did, really. There has been several indications and attributes that had contributed to his fast-growing crush.

1. L could beat him in an argument

"Killing is morally wrong," L stated, scooping ice cream into a bowl as Near watched with observant eyes.

"Agreed."

"No one should be killed."

Near frowned. "Disagree. Shouldn't murderers be put to death?"

L fixed his wide eyes on him, unblinking. "Why?"

Near fidgeted slightly under his gaze. "The punishment should fit the crime. If they've killed people, the justice system should-"

"Is killing people not morally wrong?" L interjected.

Near blinked. "Yes, but-"

"Then how can killing a person be right?"

Near faltered. "It- it's what's just," he said, trying to hide his lapse. "It's like in Hammurabi's Code. Do unto others as they have done. An eye for an eye."

"Hammurabi's civilization collapsed," L informed him, licking the scooper clean. "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."

"The death penalty restores order," Near argued, twirling his hair. "People are less likely to kill others if they live in the fear of being killed themselves. Also, those who are put to death can't kill again."

"So every time someone steals an apple from my shop, I should smash his hand so he can't steal again and to ward off other potential thieves?"

Near's mind spun. "What? No. Only for things like murder or rape-"

"If you establish this policy, what's going to stop people from applying it in other respects?" L asked, taking a spoon from the drawer. "Would it not turn into legalized revenge? You tripped and crushed my toy, so I'll destroy yours? You ran over my kid, so I'll run over yours?"

"But people wouldn't do that!" Near said, his tone slightly emphatic. "They'd be reasonable! Mello's destroyed my toys all the time, and I never go after him and destroy his!"

L turned and fixed his eyes on Near, his black eyes meeting Near's pale blue. Near shivered slightly, lost in their murky depths, feeling as if he'd been sucked into an endless chasm of black.

"Not everyone is like you, Near," L said quietly.

His eyes lingered on his face for a moment longer before he pulled away, wandering out of the kitchen to go eat his ice cream elsewhere. Near was left standing motionless in the middle of the floor, still, his eyes unseeing, his mind a tangled jumble of thoughts.

L's touch was nice

"Killing is morally wrong!"

"Is it morally right to let killers kill again?"

"They'd be in jail!" Silver argued, gesticulating wildly. "No one's suggesting letting them back out on the streets!"

"Bradford County, 1982," L quoted. "17 men killed their guards, escaped, and went on a mutual killing spree in celebration until they were recaptured three days later."

"They killed 36 people in the space of those three days," Near added, twirling his hair, his eyes blank.

L looked at him, giving him a rare smile that did something funny to his insides. "Exactly," L said, his eyes refocusing on his opponent Silver. "36 people that need not have died, I might add..."

"You can't make laws based on what may or may not happen!" Silver said, frustrated. "Some killers might break out of jail, some might not! You can't make laws based on something that might happen!"

In her enthusiasm, one of her waving arms whacked into Near, shoving him from his position on the floor in front of the couch into the coffee table, his head making a sickening crack. He winced, biting his lip hard, trying not to make a sound.

"Sorry," Silver said carelessly. Near nodded, hiding the pain in his eyes.

A moment later, though, L was pulling him up onto the couch, moving him to lie down on the sofa, his head on his lap as he examined it for lumps. The argument, however, continued undisturbed.

"By your reasoning, then, it is perfectly safe to keep volatile nuclear wastes locked in your basement because an explosion might only occur," L reasoned, his fingers softly curling in Near's hair, searching for damage.

"That's ridiculous!" Silver objected. "Wastes like that should be gotten rid of, not kept-"

"Are criminals not the waste of society?"

Near quirked an impish smile, and he could have sworn he saw L's lips twitch slightly in response. Apparently satisfied that Near's head was bump-free, L looked back to his opponent, though one hand lingered on Near's head, stroking his hair softly, tucking a stray lock behind his ear.

"You're twisting my words!" Silver exclaimed, mad. "We're talking about people's lives here, not biohazards!"

"Were we?" L asked, his eyes vague. "I wasn't sure. Thank you for clearing that up."

"Oh, you-!!" she raged. She paused, her vivid green eyes piercing L's. "Two wrongs don't make a right!"

"Is preventing more 'wrongs' not right?" L said mildly. His hand played with Near's hair, his fingers dancing along his head, his palm gently cupping his cheek, softly stroking his face, almost absently.

"Stop it!" Silver yelled, livid. Her eyes darted around, taking on a trapped quality. "Capital punishment is little more than governmentally-condoned murder! It shows no value for human life whatsoever!"

"On the contrary," L commented, his obsidian orbs fixing onto her emerald, "it is by exacting the highest penalty for the taking of human life that we affirm the highest value of human life."

Silver looked about to object again, before she turned and stormed off, fuming. Near looked up at L, who looked back down at him, his lips curved in a sort of half-smile.

"L," Near said, his voice emotionless. "Yesterday you argued that the death penalty was wrong. Today you argued that it was right."

A sparkle seemed to dance in L's eyes. "Did I?" he asked.

Near ignored his reply. "You always just seem to want to argue with us," he went on further. "You take the opposing position, regardless of your personal belief. Why?"

L looked at him, chewing his thumbnail thoughtfully, before shifting Near on his lap slightly so he could see him better, his other hand still playing in his hair.

"One of the most valuable skills one can have is to be able to argue anything," L said, looking at him, and Near stored away every word. "When the time comes, you will have to argue for what you want, and if you are found lacking in your skills, it might just slip away." He moved to get up.

"Ah-"

L glanced back down at Near, who had hastily bit his lip to restrain further sounds. L raised an eyebrow, questioning, and Near held back a blush.

"...where are you going now?" L blinked, as if slightly surprised by Near's question.

"My room..."

"Can- can I come with you?" Near asked, scarcely believing his own bravery.

L's eyes met his, and Near bit back a nervous breath. He looked at him for a long moment, before opening his mouth, one word escaping his lips.

"Why?"

He couldn't find an answer. L stood up, letting his head fall back against the sofa cushion as he ambled away, Near's mind still desperately searching for some plausible reason he could give.

3. He was L

"What're you doing?"

Near glanced up to see L looking peering down at him through dark-ringed eyes, his thumbnail in his mouth.

"...just playing."

L just stood there and watched him, gnawing on the thumbnail, while Near looked away, feeling self-conscious under L's gaze. Quietly, he resumed his game, hoping L would lose interest and go away.

Instead, to his horror, L said down on his stomach, peering at his toys, apparently intending to watch him play. Near froze, and L's eyes flickered over to him.

Near felt panicky. He'd just been playing thoughtlessly, no real thought or meaning behind it, playing for fun. L wouldn't be entertained by this. Not at all. He'd think it was silly and childish and stupid and Near'd lower in his eyes and Near couldn't let that-

"Tell me about that one you're holding," L said, his voice vaguely curious, soft and neutral. Near blinked.

"This one...?" he said, moving it slightly. L nodded.

"...this is Euniclides," Near said, his eyes darting to his toy, looking at it instead of the enigma across from him. "He's king. And someone's wreaking havoc across the land and he's trying to stop him before the storm arrives."

L nodded as if understanding. Pointing to another toy on the other side of the haphazard playhouse, he said, "And this?"

"That's Cain," he told him, picking him up as well. "He's taking advantage of the mark given to him by God at the dawn of time that didn't let anyone kill him by altering its power to turn it into a mass-hypnosis device that gives him thousands of brainless followers."

"And this is Cain's helicopter?" L asked, touching it. Near nodded, slowly relaxing.

"Yes. And right now, Cain is going off in his helicopter to Tower Doom to see Lachesis to see if she'll love him now that he can take over the world."

"Well, he'd better hurry before the storm hits, right?"

Near nodded, moving the helicopter around. It twisted, dodging imaginary clouds and missiles, and Near soon found himself lost in his little world like before, the hail of the storm closing in fast, the mindless drones threatening Armageddon, the whirring "buuuuun" of the helicopter blades, and the urgent time crunch they were all under.

As Cain reached Tower Doom, Near returned to Euniclides, picking him up as he devised a plan to unhyponotize the vast army of Cain. The best he could come up with that could work on such short notice was to put a slightly radioactive charge in the storm clouds so when the rain came, it'd alter the masses' DNA just slightly enough to not be affected by Cain's mutated mark anymore.

And when L picked up Peristopheles, Euniclides' sidekick, as they charged toward the nearest dispersing system, it seemed only too natural for L to join the game.


Yes, Near reflected, he quite liked L. He liked the mental challenge of arguing with him and the unfamiliar taste of defeat, he liked his touch, however given, and he liked that L was just L, undefined by the normal rules of world. Near liked L, and the fact was growing more and more apparent to him every day, until one day, Near decided to Do Something About It.
"Near?"

"Yes, L?"

"What is this?"

Near smiled slightly to himself. "That's a list of how I know I like you, L," Near told him, clambering up onto the bed beside him next to L's suitcase to peer over his shoulder.

L looked back down at the list before looking back up to Near.

"You enjoy being beaten in arguments?" he remarked, one eyebrow raised.

"Yes," Near said, "but that's not the point. The point is, L, I really really like you, L, and I want us to get married."

L blinked. "No."

"Then can we be partners?"

"No."

"Can I be your lover? Significant other? Girlfriend?"

"You're not a girl, Near," L sighed, picking Near up and setting him down off the bed as if he were no more than a teddy bear. He moved around the room, picking up scattered pairs of socks to pack, stuffing them into his messy suitcase. "The term 'girlfriend' would hardly suit you in any way."

"Some other term, then," Near argued. "The name doesn't matter. I just want a relationship with you. A real one, like grownups have. Can we have that?"

L paused again for a long moment, before moving to sit down on the edge of the bed. He looked down at Near, who had one knee pulled up against his chest, and sighed once more.

"No, Near," he said. "We cannot."

"Can we date then?"

"No, Near."

"Can we have anything?"

"No."

"Well why not?"

"Several reasons." L pinched the bridge of his nose very tightly before getting up and moving about the room to find where he put his shoes. Near climbed back up onto L's bed, moving to fold his clothes so they would all fit into his pack as L continued his fruitless search.

"Reason number one," L said, digging under the bed, his arms stretching to reach something underneath. "You're too young."

"I am not!" Near objected.

"You're twelve," L said, finally finding his shoe, dropping it into the suitcase from above Near. "Twelve is too young. You're too young, Near."

Near sulked. "I'll grow older, though..."

"Reason number two," L said, returning to his closet to get the rest of his shirts. "You're not emotionally mature."

"What are you talking about?" Near said, distressed. "According to Stern's IQ equation, my true age is 22-"

"Your mental age is not your level of emotional maturity, Near," L said, his tone tired as he returned with an armful of crumpled T-shirts. "Mental age is the level of analysis you possess. Emotional maturity simply means how mature you are in handling emotions, such as through life experiences, time, and previous relationships you've had."

Near frowned. "Okay... anything else?"

"One more," L said, dumping his shirts, letting Near fold them and put them away. "Reason number three."

Near looked at L expectantly, who looked right back at him. He sighed.

"Roger would have a cow."

Near exploded. "So???"

"So," L continued, "I find it has long since been in my best interest to not upset Roger. Despite being able to come and go here as I please, he is still the one who runs the orphanage."

"We could deal with Roger, though," Near lamented as he folded the last shirt and closed the case shut. "You could talk to Watari, and Watari would make Roger be okay with it! We could do that, and then we could-"

L sighed and sat back down on the bed. Near immediately went to his side, looking at him, leaning on his thigh, and L sighed again.

"Near," he said. "It wouldn't work. I told you why. One reason we could maybe work around, but three..."

"I could fix them," Near said immediately. "I could talk to Roger. I could change my DNA. I could find-"

"Near," L said gently. His hand tilted Near's face up to look at him, his eyes meeting his. "You'd best forget about this matter," he said quietly. "You might not find a way, and I wouldn't want you to put all your hope into something that would fail."

Near didn't like the tone of L's voice. He didn't like how it sounded like a goodbye before his next case. He didn't like it at all. He let his eyes shine, emotion flickering in them as he looked up at L.

"All these reasons..." Near said, looking at him, urgent. "If the reasons were gone, could we...? Would you be okay with it? Like it, even...?"

L sighed, before a small sad smile came to rest on his lips. "That won't happen, Near."

"But if they were! If I could find a way-!"

L sighed again, standing up with his suitcase. Near immediately sprang up on the bed, standing eye-level with L as he grabbed his shirt. L startled slightly, surprised, and Near pulled him a bit closer, meeting his eyes.

"If I could," he said quietly. "If I could, would you be with me?"

Something in L's eyes seemed to twist inside, morals clashing with something else, before he finally refocused on Near again and sighed.

"Yes, Near," he said quietly. "If you could find a way, I would."

Near just stood there, looking at him, his eyes wide, almost from shock. L had said yes... Near hadn't expected L to acquiesce, hadn't expected L to respond like that, hadn't expected L to ever want something similar of him like he wanted of L-

"Near..."

L sighed again, his free hand coming up to cup Near's face softly, his eyes full of regret. "I'm sorry, Near," he said quietly. "But I have to go."

L's hand moved, and the next thing Near knew, his lips were on his, capturing, sweet, soft, kind. The kiss was innocent, almost painfully, and chaste, and before Near could really respond, it was broken off.

L moved to the doorway, suitcase in his hand. He paused, looking back at him, silently, his eyes meeting and holding his.

"Good-bye, Near."

"Good-bye..."

Near watched as L left the doorway, vanishing down the hall and around a corner. A hand came up as if of its own volition, fingertips lightly resting on his lips, as if in disbelief.

Near, if you could find a way...

if you could find a way...

could find a way...

Standing there on L's bed, the faint taste of strawberries lingering on his lips, Near made up his mind, his eyes glinting with steely determination at his new mission.

He would find a way for him and L.

Or he would die trying.


What did you think of part 1? Love it? Hate it? Think it's on crack? Please, leave me a review and let me know!!